No one cares about ‘Straya Day

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Captain Phillips somewhere on the other side of the country

On TV this year, cricket legend Adam Gilchrist encouraged everyone to celebrate Australia Day in their own way. And so he might. After all, it’s never been clear to anyone what the 26th January is actually for.

Sure we all know it represents the founding of New South Wales. But what are we, on the other side of the country, meant to do in response to that?

Some young ladies like to put on small and cheap patriotic bikinis from Red Dot [no objections here from the Dodgy Perth offices], some young men like to drape themselves in the flag, get pissed, and shout “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie! Oi, Oi, Oi!” [many objections]. Most people have a BBQ and listen to JJJ.

What we learn from the past is that they had no idea how to celebrate it either. For starters, they couldn’t even agree on a name. Some states called it Australia Day, others used the term Foundation Day or Anniversary Day. It was only in 1936 the Commonwealth Government ordered everyone to use the words Australia Day. But even this didn’t make it any clearer.

In the 1910s it was a day for kids and the place to be was South Beach. There were pony rides, fruit, swings, toys, swimming and running races, and a greasy pole in the pool. But by the 1930s no one was organising anything except a rowing regatta on the Swan. Which didn’t seem very patriotic to anyone, really.

Enter the Australian Natives Association (ANA). While they might sound as if they had something to do with Aboriginal rights, they couldn’t be further away. The ANA were the leading jingoistic mob, always demanding more be done to keep Australia white and British. There is still an ANA rowing club at Bayswater, but we imagine they’ve dropped their appalling racism by now.

It was pressure from the ANA and a bucket-load of nationalistic speeches from them about celebrating White Australia that forced the government’s hand in 1936 to make the day ‘Australia Day’ for everyone.

But no one cared. Each year the Perth newspapers tried really hard to educate the public about the arrival of Captain Phillip on Sydney Cove and why they should be celebrating this historic event. But no one cared. Even during World War II, when patriotic sentiment was at its height, the City of Perth forgot to put out the national flags on 26th January until the ANA shouted at them.

Australia Day has long been a holiday for Western Australians. And that’s all its ever been. Our only tradition has been to take the day off and enjoy it. We’re not particularly interested in Captain Phillip, just JJJ. And there are no objections here from the Dodgy Perth offices.

An unwanted bed warmer

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Not just bed and breakfast

It can be hard on our country cousins when they don’t understand city ways. Take for example, Charles Sonesson who came down to Fremantle from Narrogin in 1917. Needing somewhere to sleep for the night he booked his bed at the Alhambra Café in Henry Street.

This café had opened in 1900 in the Marich Buildings, with a dining room decorated with mirrors and wall paintings. The upstairs bedrooms were described as considerably large and clean. Which is nice.

In accordance with the sign displayed outside the Alhambra, Charles paid one shilling for his room. It being early, our young Narrogin hero went for a walk, but was disgusted by how Fremantle girls were wearing their skirts way too short.

Disappointed in modern women he went back to the Alhambra, where the night porter said, “Oh, yes, this is your room, sir, but it’s another four shillings, please.”

“Nonsense!” said Charles, “I’ve paid for my bed.”

“That’s all right, old chap,” said the porter, “but you don’t know what’s in it yet. Step this way.”

After stepping that way and duly minding the step, Charles was shown into a bedroom where Miss Lily Smith, or, as her name was entered in the book—Miss Cherrynose—was lying on Charles’ bed.

The young man from Narrogin tried to explain he hadn’t requested any extras, but the night porter was having none of it.

“Come on, come on,” he said, “gimme the other four bob, she’s all right.”

It was not until he called the police that Charles could get his possessions and flee the Alhambra Café to find accommodation elsewhere in the delightful city.

Can anyone recommend accommodation in Fremantle now that provides additional services?

Our first gold fever

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All the home comforts you could want…

Where was the first gold rush in Western Australia? If you believe the history books (and you shouldn’t) they’ll say it was at Halls Creek in 1885. Not even close. The first gold rush was more than 30 years earlier.

Just off the South Western Highway, a bit south of Byford, lies the sleepy townsite of Cardup. It was here in 1854 that the newspapers breathlessly announced the first gold to be discovered in this State. Allegedly hundreds of men had camped there and were toiling away finding it easy to produce small mountains of gold. One group of prospectors had picked up more than nine kilograms without any difficulty at all.

This was great news for the people of Western Australia. The failing colony had been forced to take on convicts as cheap labour, and everyone was looking jealously at Victoria which was on the verge of becoming one of the wealthiest places on Earth thanks to its gold mines.

Many people were looking for gold here, especially since the government had announced a £500 reward for the first verified finds. The Cardup prospectors, however, were never to receive this money.

Unfortunately for our wannabe gold mine owners, Harry Hughes, then secretary of the Mechanics’ Institute, decided to take a trip to Cardup to investigate the rumours. Rather than hundreds of men, he found about twenty.

Rather than gold piled up everywhere, the best he could be shown was some quartz with tiny specks of something shiny on it, which might or might not be gold.

In any case, most of the miners were on the verge of giving up and going back to their usual careers which they had hastily abandoned for the chance of instant riches.

The moral of the story is clear. Don’t believe the history books but, even more importantly, don’t believe the newspapers. And don’t give up your day job.

How to get rid of your tan

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Ugly tanned body

At this time of year, especially after a day like today, it is all too easy to become tanned. In 1930 this was the last thing you wanted, since it would mark you as someone who worked outdoors. And you wouldn’t want to be mistaken for a tradie would you?

According to the West Australian, the solution was easy. And we invite Dodgy Perth readers to try this and report back.

Make up a solution of peroxide and ammonia bleach. Use six drops of household ammonia to three tablespoon…s of hydrogen peroxide. Pat this solution on the skin with a pad of cotton wool and allow it to dry in.

It is advisable to massage a nourishing cream into the skin after the bleach has thoroughly dried. To be really effective it is necessary to get someone else to apply the lotion to your back.

But perhaps your problem is freckles. And no one likes freckles, do they?

They are due, apparently, to an excess of iron in the system. The cure is a mixture of pumice and peroxide. Add sufficient hydrogen peroxide to three tablespoons of powdered pumice to make a creamy paste.

Smooth this over the freckles and let it remain until dry. To remove, moisten the pumice with cold water until it wipes off easily. Follow with an application of nourishing cream which should be permitted to remain on for five or ten minutes.

From now on we don’t want to see any of our readers with tans or freckles. At least not if you’re following the advice of The West.

New Year: A time for sexy mermaids

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Substantially more dressed than our heroine. But still a mermaid.

The Dodgy Perth team loves New Year’s Eve. This one will be spent reliving the ‘90s by watching Jebediah perform at the Rosemount Hotel. But it probably won’t be as exciting as one Perth event to welcome in 1935.

An impetuous little brown-haired miss, we’ll call her ‘Brownie’, asked her boyfriend to accompany her to a NYE party. Well, it was the ‘30s, and girls could get away with being unchaperoned in those days.

Unfortunately, Brownie’s boy couldn’t make the date so she decided to go on her own, knowing her good looks would easily enable her to get a lift home in the early hours. The affair was, as they used to say, a howling success. There was singing and dancing, all fuelled by the spirits the young men had brought in their hip flasks.

Of course it isn’t a party if you don’t have games, but this crowd wasn’t up for the usual kids’ activities. But no one could think of anything interesting to do until Brownie suggested a ‘stocking race’. She explained that the girls stood at one end of the room, whipped off their stockings, raced to the other end and back, and pulled on their hosiery again. The first one finished was declared the winner. The young men loved it.

After this, someone daring suggested a lingerie race along somewhat the same lines, but few of the girls were game. However, Brownie was still in the mood for fun. She promptly suggested a game of dares. All you had to do was dare someone to do anything, and you paid a forfeit if they were up for it. Since only Brownie was accepting the dares, this led to a number of—as they said at the time—amusing and exciting incidents.

Finally, it was crowned by Brownie, wearing only her undies, doing what she called a “solo mermaid dance”.

Unfortunately for our heroine, when she was being driven home by one of the lads at four a.m., she encountered her boyfriend. In an attempt to deflect any guilt, she blasted him for having failed to make a show.

What she couldn’t know is that her boy later found out about the stocking race and the mermaid dance. For her, nights on the beach with that boyfriend were over, and she would be a lonely mermaid by the water for some time.

Let there be light

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Not all history is just hot air. Honest.

As we approach the hour of the anniversary of the coming of the Christ child, it seems only right to ask the most significant question about God made flesh: When did Perth’s streets first have Christmas lights?

There were, of course, Christmas lights and decorations well before this time. Individual shops and malls had their own displays, and government buildings were beautified. But we are asking when the streets themselves were decorated.

The answer is, for once, easy to come by. Following the lead of overseas cities and the other Australian capitals, Perth finally put up illuminations in 1961, at a cost of more than £4,000. The above scene shows Murray Street at the Forrest Place intersection. A giant balloon, themed on Around the World in 80 Days, dominated the area. Six metres in diameter, it was made by local Olympic yachtsman and sailmaker Rolly Tasker.

And why the ‘around the world’ theme? Because these decorations were to be dug out of the cupboard, dusted down, and reused for the Commonwealth Games (then known as the Empire Games) hosted by Perth in late 1962.

So, dear readers, next time someone asks you about Perth’s Christmas lights, you’ll know how to answer them.

It’s Christmas time

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Just don’t ask. Don’t.

Here at Dodgy Perth, we are often asked about Christmas shopping at the turn of the twentieth century. Often, we tell you. So, for the first time 114 years, we present our glorious CBD in December 1901.

Mummified frogs. Mummified. Frogs. One grocer, H. H. Porter, had a window display of the Western Australian parliament recreated in mummified frogs. Which makes us feel all seasonal deep down inside thinking about it right now.

Want to feel the spirit of Xmas even more? Children who stopped too long to peer into the windows of the city’s shops were firmly moved on by the police. No cluttering up the pavements when there are real people with money to spend, thank you very much.

As the twentieth century started, Perth was feeling the full effects of the gold boom. Which meant there was real cash flowing around the city. Which meant shops could jack up their prices and justify it with nice window displays. Doesn’t sound at all like the city we know does it?

There being no holly or ivy locally, decorative greenery was supplied by the “health giving and invigorating” eucalyptus. Every lamp post and verandah post was covered with the stuff giving Perth the scent of the bush. Public buildings were draped with flags of every nation and shops had started to employ professional window dressers.

Take Sandover & Co, whose Hay Street window had a harvesting scene, in which a rosy-cheeked country lassie was reposing amongst sheaves of locally grown wheat. In the background a windmill—driven by an electric fan—turned itself around. How very Christmas. Although Sandover was the place to go for the novelty present everyone wanted that year: table tennis.

Of course, if you had a little more money, you could go to E. J. Bickford & Co, whose premises extended from Hay Street to Murray street. Normally a furniture dealer, in 1901 all sorts of Christmas novelties could be found there, including a display of Armenian glassware. But not needing Armenian glassware, we’ll just pick up one of their luxury ping pong tables.

J. Weidenbach & Co. had a splendid Christmas show that year. The windows were full of beautiful Chinese lanterns and umbrellas, Japanese art drapings and Chinese silk drapings. Beautiful, until you realise that 1901 was the year they passed the Immigration Restriction Act specifically to stop Chinese and Japanese people coming to Australia. Hypocritical bastards our ancestors.

Hughes & Doheny had snowstorms in their window, but much better they had Kinross whisky and Santa Ross wines inside.

And we in the Dodgy Perth office would have loved to have looked in the window of Carter & Co., to check out their “unique” display of ladies’ lingerie. Not for ourselves, you understand. Well, unless it fits nicely.

Inglewood presents…

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Civic Theatre looking all theatrical

As the Dodgy Perth team were due some well-earned R&R yesterday, we all headed to the exclusive Civic Hotel in Inglewood to sample their wine list. First of all, naturally, we ensured we were compliant with the dress code: singlet (check), sleeve tattoo (check), making Tarquin call himself Davo all night for his own safety (check).

Out in the courtyard, listening to the acoustic guitarist covering Aussie classics for the sole benefit of his two bored mates, we wondered if Inglewood had once had more thrilling entertainment. Rummaging through some fading Xpress Magazines in the corner of the room, we discovered the Clock Tower had once been the Civic Theatre.

When it opened in 1936, the press went a little overboard, describing it as “one of the most modern and beautiful of suburban theatres” and praising its interior as having “walls of texture finish in bronze and gold”.

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Mr Kay at the Civic Theatre Restaurant, 1969

But we were not interested in 1936. No sir. We wished for a modern-day Doctor Who to transport us to the greatest year in history (1969), when the building was known as the Civic Theatre Restaurant and people of that year (lucky, lucky people) would have been entertained by Max Kay himself, and a variety of scantily-clad dancers.

We are setting up an on-line petition to demand the Civic Hotel give us less Chase the Ace and more dancers and Max Kay. You’ll sign, won’t you?

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I think I can see her knickers. Civic, 1969

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Aren’t you cold in that? Civic, 1969

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She’s got legs… Civic, 1969

The Inglewood Nazis

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Looking so, so sexy in their fascist outfits

Some people have mixed emotions about Reclaim Australia and the United Patriots Front who are protesting the ‘Islamification’ of WA. But Dodgy Perth salutes them. It takes a special kind of bravery to stand up in public and let everyone see what kind of knob end you really are.

So to celebrate the rise of Neo Nazis in Perth, we present a time when there was no ‘Neo’: the 1930s. Welcome to the Nazi Party of Western Australia. Yep. Actual, honest-to-god Nazis.

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Busselton was not as nice to Uncle Adolph as Inglewood

Being a stylish bunch of fascists they did not want the brown or black shirts associated with tasteless European evil, so they went for an attractive shade of blue. When matched with a peaked cap it made them both quite fascistic and, to be perfectly honest, a little like a 1970s gay clone.

The local branch of Nazis was headed by W. G. Tracey, a man so awful The Racial Purity Guild of Australia was embarrassed to be connected with him.

And Tracey must have been humiliated when his main opponents, the Communist Party, decided they couldn’t be bothered protesting his miniature Nuremberg Rally at Riley’s Hall in Inglewood, on Beaufort Street.

“After careful investigation of the so-called National Socialist Party,” said a Commie spokesman, “we have come to the conclusion that the organisation and its leader can be ignored.”

Ouch.

If you want to make a pilgrimage to the site of WA’s first Nazi rally, the building is now an excellent Himalayan-Nepalese restaurant, which Dodgy Perth can recommend from personal experience.

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